A new report from the University of Illinois explores the wages and working conditions of hospital service workers – those who clean the hospital and stop the spread of infection, prepare healthy food for patients, and otherwise support healthcare at the hospital. The report, entitled Hospital Service Work in the Chicago Region and Illinois, finds that hospitals that rake in millions in revenues pay poverty-wages to tens of thousands of workers who are critical to patient care.
The paper’s authors recommend that hospitals institute a starting wage of $15 an hour and make clear that if hospital service workers were able to join a union free from intimidation they would make higher incomes. The report was highlighted in an article in today’s Chicago Sun-Times.
Below are five takeaways for this startling new report.
1. IL Hospital Service Workers Make Poverty Wages
Nearly 30,000 hospital service workers in Illinois make under $15 an hour, 22,000 of which make under $13 an hour.
55% of hospital service workers in Illinois make under $15 an hour. That number is 61% for the Chicago area.
2. Most Hospital Service Workers Are Women and People of Color
Women and people of color are the backbone of hospitals, but the mostly rich, white, & male CEOs that run hospitals don’t pay them what they deserve.
3. Hospital Workers Can’t Afford Health Insurance from their Own Hospitals
Ironically, hospitals making millions of dollars don’t even offer affordable health insurance to their employees who are on the front lines of care. Because rich hospitals won’t do what’s right, many hospital service workers are forced to rely on taxpayer-funded healthcare.
4. They Suffer and Face Impossible Choices
5. They Need $15 and a Union
Remember, hospital worker poverty is no accident. The corporate lobbyists who run the Illinois Hospital Association and greedy politicians like Governor Bruce Rauner are responsible.